No one dominates like Kansas dominates. The Jayhawks have won the Big 12 regular season an astounding 13 straight times, completely owning one of the best leagues in the country. They've been only slightly more susceptible in the conference tournament, winning the Big 12 title seven times in 17 opportunities since the turn of the century.
Yeah, it is tough to knock a team for "only" winning the championship 40 percent of the time. Especially when you're essentially saying it is one team versus the other nine (and prior to conference realignment 12) teams in the league. But when you set the bar absurdly high, those are the epic expectations that you find yourself up against.
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The 2017 Big 12 Tournament begins on Wednesday, March 8 and will be held at the Spring Center in Kansas City, MO. Here is Doc's Sports Big 12 Tournament preview and predictions:
The Favorite: Kansas (+130)
It's been an odd season in Lawrence. The Jayhawks earned their incredible 13th straight Big 12 regular season title and they are currently the No. 1 team in the country. Kansas has won eight straight and they should be gearing up for another potential title run. But off-court issues, injuries, and all manner of drama has plagued the Jayhawks this winter. The latest twist of which is the suspension of superb freshman Josh Jackson for the first game of the league tournament. Senior point guard Frank Mason - who won't be the national player of the year but may be the nation's most valuable player - will look to pick up the slack without Jackson. Kansas has a solid interior game, some nice complimentary perimeter players, and a proven system. But they need Mason and Jackson healthy, focused and effective if they want to win back-to-back titles for the first time since taking three straight from 2006-2008.
The Contender: West Virginia (+290)
It looks like if anyone is going to have to challenge Kansas it will again be Huggy's Boys. West Virginia and its vaunted pressure defense will try to step forward and unseat the Jayhawks. WVU actually lost to Kansas in the Big 12 championship game last year, and they would love another crack at KU. WVU hammered Kansas by 16 down in Morgantown in January and then lost at Lawrence in overtime. In fact, the Mountaineers have beaten Kansas in each of the past four seasons (4-5 SU). WVU's aggressive guards, led by Jevon Carter and Tarik Phillip, lead the way. But the play of forwards Esa Ahmad and Nathan Adrian will be even more important this week in KC.
The Sleeper: Baylor (+475)
The Baylor Bears actually worked their way to No. 1 in the country this year. They were 15-0 and granted to top spot on Jan. 9, ascending to No. 1 for the first time in program history. They promptly lost by 21 points in their next game. The Bears have never handled success on the court all that well. And they haven't handled the Big 12 tournament particularly well either, making the finals in 2014 and 2012 but flaming out in the semis each of the past two seasons. Baylor has a star forward in John Motley and an excellent rim protector in Jo Lual-Acuil. But the key for this team will be the health of transfer Manu Lecomte. Baylor's starting point guard was named the league's Newcomer of the Year. But he has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. His status, and overall play, will have a major impact on this team's stay this week.
The Spoiler: Iowa State (+950)
The Cyclones are the only team that's still in the Big 12 to win the conference tournament over the last 11 years, other than Kansas. (Missouri, which is now in the SEC, won the 2012 and 2009 Big 12 tourneys.) The Cyclones cut down the nets in 2014 and 2015 and they tend to raise their level of play in tournament settings. This is also the final go-round for their core of seniors. The Cyclones' five top players are all seniors, and if they are going to go down they are going to go with a fight. The Cyclones have a chance to deliver a blow to Oklahoma State's NCAA dreams in the quarterfinals and then have a shot at top-seeded Kansas in the semifinals. The Cyclones won in Lawrence this year and have been a thorn in KU's side over the past three years.
Bubble Team To Watch: Kansas State (+2000)
The Wildcats enter the tournament off one of their strongest weeks of the season, winning a pair of veritable playoff games at TCU and then at home against Texas Tech to position themselves for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Can the Wildcats keep it rolling? They played one of their best games of the year against Texas Tech last Saturday. But that game was at home. Kansas State has plenty of size to match up with any team in the league, including the first opponent, Baylor. But the key for what the Wildcats put together comes down to their sophomore guards Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown. I think Kansas State may have to beat Baylor on Thursday to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. We will see if they deserve a bid.
Early Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 4 Iowa State (-4) vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State (12:30 p.m., Thursday, March 9)
It is unfortunate that this game is being played at 11:30 a.m. local time because I think it will sap some of the energy from this one. However, even the early tip isn't going to slow the pace down. Both of these two teams love to run and gun and they each feature one of the best backcourts in the entire country. Iowa State already beat the Cowboys twice this year, including a win in Ames on Feb. 28. Oklahoma State simply couldn't keep Iowa State from getting to the basket in either game. And Oklahoma State's style really plays into Iowa State's hands, as you are really never going to out-run-and-gun the Cyclones. But then again, it is tough to beat a good team three times. And if Jawun Evans and Phil Forte get it going from the outside then Iowa State could be in big, big trouble.
2017 Big 12 Conference Tournament Predictions: I actually think that Kansas is a little more beatable than in years past. I know that they are 28-3 and have been dominating. And I love Frank Mason. But I actually don't think that the Jayhawks will cut down the nets this week. There is a little too much negative karma surrounding this team and I think it will come back to bite them. Baylor, when healthy, is a team that's shown a lot of upside. And I think that the winner of the Iowa State-Oklahoma State game is more than capable of jumping the Jayhawks. I'm not 100 percent sure who is going to win this title. But I will call for an upset and for a team rated No. 3 or lower to get it done for just the second time since 2009.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has a streak of 10 straight winning regular seasons. Robert's $100-per-Unit clients have banked over $8,300 in profit over the last three weeks and took home $16,900 in profit for his clients last year alone. There is no better moneymaker in the nation. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here .
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